Wednesday September 26, 2012
“Don’t hide the truth from your customers” was the key message at the Tourism Society’s ‘Crisis Management in Tourism’ event held on September 25th. This is especially true in the age of instant communication, along with acknowledging that a crisis has occurred. Make sure that the version of events that is being relayed is the correct and accurate one.
Panellist Lucy Nicholl, Operations Manager at Explore, explained that it is a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ a crisis will take place. As a tour operator you and importantly your extended supply chain have got to be prepared, trained, and have incident checklists to hand – and be prepared to learn from every experience. Tom Buncle FTS, Managing Director, Yellow Railroad International Destination Consultancy, who chaired the session, summarised the evening by noting accurate communication of the facts and strong partnerships are the basics to overcoming a tourism crisis, remembering the actual event is usually less harmful than the fear it creates.
One area that needs plenty of work is the successful integration of the tourism and travel sectors with government agencies. Richard Gordon, Director of the Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre, who has recently produced a report for UNWTO, highlighted the different standpoints various groups have, with the needs of tourists and their ground handlers differing from those of the national agencies, even though everyone is caught up in the same crisis.